Overcoming the Anxiety of Perfection

If you’re like me, you sometimes stress about your shortcomings. You might compare yourself to others, or to where you were a few years ago. You may sometimes think you should be more, have more etc.

You see people exalted in the media, held up as heroes. It is sometimes easy for you mind to compare you to a Steve Jobs, a Muhammad Ali, an Oprah Winfrey. Or you may compare yourself to someone you work with, play sports with, or your own brother or sister.

This may leave you feeling down, depressed, or anxious, chomping at the bit to “catch up”.

Well, here’s how I deal with this issue.

1. Forget about what “they” say about you: You can’t control others’ opinions of you. But you can act in a way that allows you to follow your values, whatever they may be. When you live in alignment with your values, you are living with integrity, and this will build your SELF worth. When your self worth is high, you won’t worry about what “they” say.

2. Remember, life is not a race, not a contest: Whoever dies with the most stuff does not win. Whether the stuff is cars and houses, trophies or newspaper articles written about them. I believe that the people living in alignment with their values, and enjoying the journey, are the real “winners”.

3. Remember that all you can do is take this step: You can only be here and do what what you can do NOW. Don’t resent the past or worry about the future, just take this step and focus on the present moment.

4. Remember that even your heroes aren’t perfect: While it is great to have role models to look to for inspiration, it’s even better when you realize that your heroes have had challenges and setbacks. Suddenly it may hit you “Hey, they’re not perfect, they’re like me!”. When you realize that you are much more like your heroes than you may have thought, a whole world of possibility opens up to you. So check out some biographies (tons of free biographies are online), and learn about things like Muhammad Ali breaking his jaw in the ring, General Robert E. Lee’s early ridicule from his own troops, Steve Jobs’ bouts with depression. You’ll realize that they have overcome challenges, and so can you.

5. Focus on what is important to YOU. What is your definition of a successful life? Knowing this is the foundation of building a rewarding life. Is it finding a way to be useful to others? Is it living in the moment and enjoying the gift of life? Here is an interesting question… What would you like to be written in your obituary, if only YOU were to ever read it? Ponder that for a moment…

I hope this little tidbit helps you out. And for further reading/watching, check out anything by Eckhart Tolle, Thich Nhat Hanh, or the Dalai Lama,my favorite teachers of happiness 🙂


Dan O’Donnell



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